All around Australia this week, kids are getting excited about their Easter egg hunts, taking part in the annual Easter bonnet parade or attending the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

For Australians, Easter is a chance to enjoy the last few warm days before winter.  But Easter is celebrated around the world in a number of unique ways, with traditions varying from country to country.

Easter Feathers
Easter Feathers

1. In Sweden…

Although Easter is mainly a secular holiday, the long weekend is celebrated with meals made of eggs, herring and Jansson’s Temptation (a combination of potato, onion and pickled sardines baked in cream). In the days leading up to Easter Sunday, children dress up as Easter witches with red cheeks – becoming ‘påskkärringar’ – and go visiting house to house. In exchange for a drawing or singing a song (always accompanied by wishes of ‘Glad Påsk!’ (Happy Easter!) the children may receive sweets. The Swedish version of Easter eggs or ‘Påskägg’ isn’t made from chocolate, but from cardboard – and they’re filled with lollies. These cardboard eggs will likely be saved and reused for the egg hunt in years to come…

If you’re in Sweden at Easter, the other tell-tale sign of the annual festivities is the birch twigs (or ‘Påskris’) decorated with bright, coloured feathers along the shop windows, dining tables and windows of houses.

Photo courtesy: Thoughtfulwomen.org

2. In Finland…

Over in Finland, children beg in the streets with sooty faces and scarves wrapped around their heads. They carry broomsticks, willow twigs and coffee pots too! But why? In some parts of Western Finland, people burn bonfires on Easter Sunday. This is a Nordic tradition that stems from the belief that the flames ward off witches who fly around between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

3. In Poland…

You might come across the Polish tradition of ‘Smingus-Dyngus’. This tradition has its roots in the baptism of Polish Prince Mieszko on Easter Monday in 966AD. On Easter Monday, boys try to drench others with buckets of water, water pistols, or anything they can get their hands on! The legend says any girl who gets soaked on Easter Monday will marry within the year.

4. In Czech Republic and Slovakia

There’s an Easter tradition in which men spank women with handmade whips made of willow and beautifully decorated with ribbons. The legend goes that the willow is the first tree to bloom in the spring, so these branches are supposed to transfer the tree’s vitality and fertility to the womenfolk. It’s all designed to be playful and meant in good fun.

Photo courtesy of PinkCappachino via Flickr.com
Photo courtesy of PinkCappachino via Flickr.com

5. In Bermuda…

On Good Friday, Bermudians celebrate Easter by flying homemade kites, eating hot cross buns and codfish cakes. Quite the combination! The tradition is said to have begun when a local teacher from the British Army had difficulty explaining Christ’s ascension into Heaven. He made a kite, traditionally shaped like the cross, to illustrate the concept.

6. In Corfu, Greece…

On Holy Saturday, the traditional pot throwing will take place on the Greek island of Corfu. Greeks will throw pots, pans and all sorts of earthenware out of their windows, smashing them on the street. Some believe the throwing of the pots welcomes spring, symbolising the crops that will be gathered in the new pots.

Photo courtesy of George Tziralis via Flickr.com
Photo courtesy of George Tziralis via Flickr.com

7. In Haiti…

Holy Week is marked by colourful parades and traditional ‘rara’ music – this is played on maracas, drums, bamboo trumpets and coffee cans! The holiday is a mixture of Catholic and Voodoo traditions. Voodoo believers will make an annual pilgrimage to the village of Souvenance. The most devout believers will hold a goat head and other parts as offering to the spirits during a ceremony. The celebration is typically marked by drumming, chanting and animal sacrifices.

8. In Norway…

In Norway, you might come across an unusual tradition for the season, typically called ‘Easter-crime,’ or ‘Paaskekrim’. At Easter, many Norweigans will read mystery books or watch a crime detective series on national television.

unique ways easter
Norweigan mystery novels on display during Easter.

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